I think back to summers in the Pacific Northwest when I was growing up, and they were filled with glorious sunny days that rarely reached above the low eighties. Summertime is idyllic around here after the long months of gray and wet, and everyone takes full advantage of the few short months of perfect weather.

The last few years though, wildfires around the region have been so bad that our air quality in August is terrible, and it seems likely this will be our new normal as we continue to have awful fire seasons. Last August we escaped to Lopez Island for a long weekend during the worst of it, but were staying put this year because we’ve been eating up our vacation time like candy.

I keep wondering at what point we will take climate change seriously to a level that sees real widespread change, but it seems sometimes that day will never come. When I was younger, I expected that as soon as we experienced real negative effects associated with climate change we would get serious in realizing that we have to take care of the one planet we have, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more cynical as it seems like people are content to ignore problems no matter how bad they get. And really, not being able to breathe when you go outside for long seems like a pretty dang big problem. <end rant>

Air quality earlier this week

Friday’s Frugal Five

1. Thanks to our camping trip this past weekend, we had a no spend day on Sunday. We seem to almost never have weekend days where we don’t spend at least a little money, so it felt really good to log one in the books this past week. I love this idea to mark no spend weeks on a chart to get a sense of how many weeks we’ve done well on that front. I think I may need to start doing this myself because I’m really motivated by seeing long term trends of success. No spend days have been so important to reigning in my small impulse purchases, and I wonder how much our spending fluctuates month to month depending on the number of no spend days we have.

2. A friend of mine just had a baby last week and didn’t have any infant sized cloth diapers, so I told her I would mail the ones I had at home. She already cloth diapers her older child, but overestimated the ability to use one size fits all diapers with a newborn as she didn’t start using cloth until after that point the first time around.

I could have made some money selling my stash of newborn diapers online, but I much prefer gifting things to friends whenever possible. Another mama friend of mine gifted me a few cloth diapers when I was pregnant with my son, and it was such a big deal for me to receive them – both for the cost savings but also the validation of what is still a pretty alternative choice. Cloth diapering has been an easy, wonderful journey for us in reducing the waste related to having a child, and I want to encourage other parents to at least try them out; they really aren’t as hard as you’re made to believe.

Tiny diapers!

If you are looking to use cloth diapers, my favorite newborn cloth are Kissaluvs and GMD workhorse diapers with covers. For one size, my favorites are Thirsties and Bumgenius. You can also find great deals online for gently used diapers, and I’ve found that any friends who already cloth diaper are likely willing to pass on their stash to see that they continue to get used.

Is there any interest in a cloth diapering specific post in the future? I know it’s a pretty specific thing, but I think I have a pretty good level of understanding after more than three years at it.

3. I managed to have two round trip car free commutes this week! This was a combination of carpooling with my husband (he dropped us off near preschool), biking, and taking the bus. Lime Bike has been a great help in getting around more quickly than just via bus and my own two feet, but I’m rapidly approaching the decision to buy myself a bike. Perhaps I need to do an analysis of how many times I’d need to ride it for it to pay off financially, and whether it makes sense to pay the premium to get an e-bike. (Last minute update: THREE round trip car free commutes this week thanks to a schedule adjustment today, Friday).

Lime E-Bike and regular bike

4. I had a friend over for dinner on Monday night after she reached out to me about getting help with her finances. I’m impressed with how much time she took to really pull together all her expenses and income so we could have a deep look at where she’s at, and she’s really on the track to get herself in a much better financial situation very quickly. I love helping people with their finances, and I love that this blog has made it so friends feel comfortable coming to me to talk money.

5. I deposited my quarterly Ebates check this past week: $54.42! Cash back sites may not make me rich, but I’m all for getting a little bit of extra money for purchases I would be making regardless. In previous years, the money I received from Ebates would just go into my checking account and then disappear on whatever I ended up spending it on with no real intentionality. Now, I deposit that amount, rounded up to the nearest $5, immediately into long term savings. It’s really the little changes that can add up to big ones over time.

If you haven’t signed up for Ebates yet, here is $10 to get started. As always, know yourself, and sign up for this kind of program if you will be disciplined to use it only when you are making a purchase anyway – not because of the online shopping coupons that encourage you to spend more.

Running Update

I didn’t run this past weekend since we were camping, but I had decent step count days regardless because of the trip. I’d like to find a way to run on these camping weekends, but when we stay in locations without a shower, it’s probably best that I don’t. I ran inside all week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) thanks to the awful air quality outside, and I’m missing my outdoor runs. I did get in a short weight lifting workout on Wednesday as well and a bit of biking, but outdoor activities have been really limited. Once the air is clear again, we will be spending a LOT of time outside. (Another side note: Thursday afternoon and I’ve seen blue sky for the first time in more than a week. Fingers crossed we’re past the worst of it and it doesn’t just show back up again next week)

How’s the air quality where you are at? Any tips for getting through long weeks when spending time outside isn’t an option?

43 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2018 – Week 34)

  1. that’s tough with those wildfires. our air quality appears ok but we likely have more benzene in the air and crap like that than most places. i’ve never been around out west when it’s been all smoky. mrs. me got a used bike for about 50 bucks last year. not running with no shower around? is there a lake or stream? i’ve been running with the dog now that it’s been below 80 regularly. enjoy the weekend.

    1. Oftentimes not a lake or stream, and if there is, it’s usually glacier melt. Brrr. If I found a decent bike for $50 I’d jump all over it at this point.

  2. Yes, the world is changing and not enough are willing to make a difference….keep ranting.
    Well done on the bike ride and I’m sure an awesome deal can be found on a used one, make sure to find a bike savvy friend to help you make the purchase if you do. As I type this comment I am looking out the window at our least smoky day so hopefully this is the start of a shift in the wind for a few days. I don’t expect that to last as there seems to be no rain in the forecast in BC or Washington anytime soon.

    1. Weather shifted again yesterday afternoon and we’re back into the unhealthy range again. Sunday’s forecast had rain originally but not any more 🙁

      I do have someone to help on the bike purchasing front. I’ll have to talk it over with him more now that I really think I’m going to buy one.

  3. That smoke looks horrendous, can’t believe how bad it is. Any idea when it’ll get better?

    And I vote that you should get a bike – and does the little man have a bike yet? I see lots of family bike rides in your future.

    1. It was better for maybe 18 hours and then dipped back into the unhealthy category again 🙁 Apparently we shouldn’t expect it to fully go away until it starts raining again. Ugh.

      He has a little balance bike that he loves! My husband is also debating a bike purchase and I definitely have visions of family bike rides in the future 🙂

  4. Wow, Ebates has not been working for me lately. It seems they may have restricted the # of categories they’re giving cash back for on Amazon maybe? I’m just not gettng cash back nerly enough and am thinking of switching to Swagbucks

    1. Yeah, it really depends on what you’re purchasing. I did have a vacation rental purchase in there that helped that number for sure haha.

  5. You know I’m really hating the air quality now. Our summer is so short already and now it’s even shorter. The last few years have been really bad, for sure. I don’t like this new normal at all. The west coast needs to figure out how to deal with the fire. Maybe have more control burns and more forest management? I don’t know the answer.

    1. Partially it’s due to climate change, and partially it’s due to catchup of a lot of years of total fire suppression forest management. Basically we’re in a really bad spot right now when it comes to forest fires unfortunately.

  6. Thanks for writing out some of your thoughts on climate change. I found it oddly encouraging to read. This summer I’ve been struggling a lot with my disappointment over our unwillingness to do anything about climate change. I’ve tried to focus that concern on decreasing my own carbon footprint (I’m a new car enthusiast who reads incessantly about electric cars and tax credits). Still, it’s been really discouraging. I’m originally from Buffalo and I have childhood memories of cool summers and six month winters completely piled with snow. It’s alarming to think of how much has changed in my lifetime. Anyway, thanks for being real about your feelings on this issue.

    1. I know what you mean about oddly encouraging. The hardest part is how little we hear about it and how little most people seem to care.

  7. I’m sorry you are dealing with the poor air quality. We don’t have that issue in the Midwest, but we have our own weather issues. We had no spring (snowed 3 times in April!) and not too long after that we had about two months of temps in the mid-90s (with awful humidity). That’s definitely not ‘normal’ and it’s hard for me to understand why many people don’t acknowledge that our climate is changing.

    1. It’s a little scary how much our weather has changed to “not normal” recently. I realize not 100% of it can be pointed to climate change, but it seems crazy to me that people can still deny it’s happening at all / people are the cause.

  8. I am over the top jealous of your car free commutes. Maybe my biggest regret as an adult is not choosing a home closer to work. To be fair, I didn’t think I would work at my current job for 15 years. Oh well. Nice post this week….. I’m going for an outdoor run today. Our Puget Sound air has improved even if only for a few days.

    1. How long is your commute?? I had a 35-40 minute commute when we lived in South Carolina and it was long enough for me to realize that I’m basically allergic to commuting.

      1. And you don’t have to go in five days a week most of the time, so that has to help.

      2. And some of those are weekends with less traffic I presume. How often do you pick up extra shifts?

      3. Yes. I work every other weekend. I love working weekends because of the decreased traffic and easy parking. I try to pick up two days a month but I don’t work extra in the summer.

      4. That’s one of the big underrated perks of nursing I think – the flexibility of picking up shifts when you want.

      5. Not something most of us have the option for to be sure!

  9. Climate change is definitely a ‘thing’. All of New South Wales is suffering terribly, (888,444 square miles, which is HUGE) and we see photos of starving animals lying on the ground dead or looking like walking skeletons on the news and our FB every day. There’s a “Buy a Bale’ charity that buys hay for farmers and delivers it. On Tuesday our staffroom is having a morning tea with donations going towards this.
    Our summer in Victoria is shaping up to be a scorcher. We’re directly below NSW so I guess that isn’t surprising. There’ll be bushfires here for sure.
    (Hope you noticed I changed the kilometres into miles for you wild and crazy Americans. 🙂 )
    And yes – do the list. It certainly keeps me on track.

    1. I wonder if maybe there’s a higher percentage of people in your area who believe in climate change when you’re living it so dramatically? Probably not though, unfortunately.

  10. We used cloth diapers on our son during his first year. We really loved it and used prefold and inserts diapers on him. We are storing them in case we have another baby. Like you said have them helps eliminates wastes and plus the diapers covers look so cool!

    1. The diaper covers are so cute!! You just have to stop yourself from buying into the hype or you can end up spending way way too much money on them.

  11. “I deposited my quarterly Ebates check this past week: $54.42!”

    What?! How! It’s been almost 3 months for me on BeFrugal and I got $3.22 not including the $10 they gave me. My vendors (like eBay and Amazon) keep rejecting it. I’m close to quitting because I could have just used Smile.Amazon.com for a guaranteed donation to SPCA or something. 🙁 What small prints and hacks are there, jesussss.

    I’ve always wanted to ride on those electric Lime bikes! They don’t have many outside of downtown/Ballard/Fremont here.

    1. It really depends on what I’m buying – the big numbers come from renting through HomeAway and other vacation sites. That and the occasional work purchase that I can run through ebates 😉 That’s basically how I feel about Ibotta there. Pretty much the only cash back I get there is on pet supplies.

    1. Yeah, that’s true. Amazing how much language matters. And now it’s a good way for deniers to use words to ignore what’s going on in the world.

  12. I’m hearing you on the change in air quality. When we moved to Seattle for grad school in the late 90s, I remember so many carefree summer afternoons and weekends spent outside. Now we can’t do the same for our kids :(. Even though we are now in remote San Juan County, we are still getting the same warnings. Our air cleared up yesterday and we’ve got rain today, so hopefully the end is in site for you guys in Seattle! And thanks for sharing your frugal victories large and small, it’s inspiring!

    1. Rain today, hooray!! I’ll admit, I’m more than a bit jealous of you being up in San Juan county. We’ve more than once considered buying property out on Lopez.

      1. I hope it works out if you are able to find a property that is a good fit. It’s been wonderful for our family but it has been a commitment to live someplace so remote – not for the faint of heart (or wallet)!

      2. Yeah, for now we’re staying put close to family, but it’s a long term temptation to be sure 🙂

  13. I would like to offer some hopeful ideas. I suspect I am older than you, in my forties, and I suspect I have spent my life in a dirtier area; the NY metro area. When I was a kid in the early 80s, I can recall the days before catalytic converters were common. I can recall the scares of acid rain, and dead lakes in update NY due to emissions from Mid-West coal plants; that never became a serious issue. In those days, we would drive down Route 4 in New Jersey to NY City for whatever we were headed there for, we had many friends and family in the city in those days, and you could see from a point near Paramus NJ the city as you came over this particular hill. In those days, as young as I was, I recall a large brown haze hanging over the city. It was like an alien spacecraft from the movie Independence Day. Obviously it was just a brown cloud, but you could really see it clearly over the tops of the towers in Manhattan on hot summer days. In those days there was still lead in the gasoline.

    Catalytic converters only became law in 1975, and considering the lifetime of cars, it took until the 80s for the majority of cars to have them. Gasoline was required to be lead free by 1995. The brown cloud was long gone by about 1990 or so as I remember.

    For most of my life, coal was the primary source of electricity in the US. Today its down to 30%, and natural gas, while not clean by any standard, is much cleaner than coal.

    I am a huge energy fan; I actually made a few solar cells in a class in college. My degree is in electrical engineering. If you follow the great work in fusion, I honestly think we will have a viable net positive commercial plant in 10 years. It could be sooner. By then, solar, considering current rates of improvements, particularly with the thin film type which are far less energy intensive than the ones you see everywhere, and what I made in college, could make them unnecessary. Batteries are the problem for solar, but there are a lot of companies, universities, and government labs around the world working on the problem. Have hope!

    I will leave you with a clean water happy story. In my youth, the Hudson river, was so polluted, you could not swim in it. For over 10 years now, there are regular swimming races in it. In recent years, whales have come back into NY harbor. They were neither sick nor lost, just following food. The Long Island sound, also quite dirty in the 1980s is much better now. There have been whales seen there as well. Even the seals are back in the Cape Cod area of Mass. The great white sharks are back as well to the detriment of a few folks who were bit this year, but humans can work around that. It’s better to have a healthy ecosystem, with the apex predator returning. It seems the area off NY is a birthing area for them again, and they swim off to eat the seals off Cape Cod, and return here. The catch and release fishermen off NY and NJ report lots of baby great whites, that again was not the case in the 80s after the mass killings after Jaws.

    We have not finished the race, but we have come a long way.

    1. I am VERY aware of the Hudson River story, and even got the privilege to hear Robert F Kennedy Jr speak about his experience in making an impact there. The hard part is looking at where things were when I was in elementary through high school and realize we haven’t made very big strides since then. But I try and stay hopeful.

  14. Girl, I think we established this morning that if you really want to reach FI, you need to drive to work. None of this biking nonsense 😉

    I love how you’re changing your friends’ lives by helping them with money! That’s definitely a big perk of not blogging anonymously.

    1. Hahaha. Right. Totally doing this backwards 😉 And yeah, I’d say that’s probably my #1 perk for not blogging anonymously.

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